Oct 19, 2020 - Most visa applications to be done on smartphones

The Home Office has been rolling out new webpages for the public on how to get a visa, in preparation for the new points-based immigration system due to be rolled out from 1 January 2021. One such page was published yesterday, aimed at EU citizens. The overall message is “yes, you will in fact need a visa now” but there’s one section that caught our eye:

Most people will be able to complete their [visa] application, including identity verification, using a smartphone app. Some applicants may need to attend a Visa Application Centre depending on the route they are applying for and whether they ...

Oct 15, 2020 - Coronavirus and the UK immigration system (as of 16 October 2020)

Spouses and minimum income

Another group of people under particular pressure during the crisis is families where one partner is on, or about to apply for, a spouse visa. Loss of earnings as a result of the coronavirus-induced economic crash may mean that the family fall foul of the financial requirements.

Until 8 June there was no published concession for people in this situation. There is now a section of the guidance on Changes to the minimum income and adequate maintenance requirement. It says:

If you’ve experienced a loss of income due to coronavirus up to 1 January 2021, we will consider ...

Oct 12, 2020 - Non-resident landlords move to corporation tax

HMRC has published guidance on changes to the rules from April 2020. According to the guidance, non-UK resident landlord companies (NRL) including those who invest in UK property through collective investment vehicles will need to pay Corporation Tax instead of Income Tax on profits from UK property from 6 April 2020. The tax year 2019/20 is also the final year in which the company tax return form SA700 is required to be submitted by the subsequent 31 January.

While this brings a reduction in the current applicable tax rate from 20% to 19%, the changing landscape means that NRLs now face heavi...

Oct 08, 2020 - Rishi Sunak announced a new local furlough scheme

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a local furlough scheme for employees who work for UK firms forced to shut by law because of coronavirus restrictions across the country.

The six-month programme will see the Government pay two thirds of workers’ wages, up to a maximum of £2,100 per month per employee and the Treasury said they would protect jobs and enable businesses to reopen quickly once restrictions are lifted.

The scheme will begin on 1 November. Until November businesses that are asked to close can continue to use the existing furlough scheme. Chancellor Rishi Sunak said it would be a...

Oct 06, 2020 - It just got even more difficult for EU nationals to get British citizenship

On 30 September 2020 the Home Office updated its good character policy for naturalisation to make it even harder for EU nationals to become British citizens. 

The new policy doubles the period of time, from five years to ten years, during which certain EU citizens in the UK must have held comprehensive sickness insurance (CSI) or a European health insurance card (EHIC) issued by an EU country, in order to qualify for citizenship.

Before we discuss the latest policy update in detail, some important points:

  • This only affects applicants for British citizenship. 
  • This generally only affec...

Oct 05, 2020 - PM lays out vision for post coronavirus UK

UK PM Boris Johnson has vowed to defeat Covid and build a better country over the next decade in his leader's speech to the virtual Conservative conference. Evoking the UK's recovery from World War Two, he said he wanted to build a 'new Jerusalem', with opportunity for all, improved housing and healthcare.

The prime minister also mounted a robust defence of the private sector, saying “free enterprise” must lead the recovery and that that he intended to significantly roll back the extraordinary state intervention the crisis had necessitated.

Among the key pledges in the speech, Johnson said the...

Oct 05, 2020 - Immigration Health Surcharge rises to £624 from 27 October 2020

The Immigration Health Surcharge will increase from £400 a year to £624 a year on 27 October 2020. The Immigration (Health Charge) (Amendment) Order 2020 (SI 2020 No. 1086) was made today, 6 October, and comes into force 21 days later. As a result, UK immigration applications sent in before the 27th will be hundreds of pounds cheaper than those completed after that date.

The order also provides that applicants for a Health and Care visa are exempt from paying the surcharge. A reduced rate of £470 will apply to students, dependants of students, Youth Mobility visa holders and anyone under 18.


Sep 30, 2020 - EU starts legal action against UK over controversial Brexit law

The European Union is starting legal proceedings against the UK over Boris Johnson’s plan to breach terms of its Brexit divorce deal and break international law.

“The commission has decided to send a letter of formal notice to the UK government,” European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen announced in Brussels on Thursday 1 October. “This draft bill is by its very nature a breach of the obligation of good faith laid down in the Withdrawal Agreement.”

The Internal Market Bill sets out rules for the operation of the UK internal market - trade between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern...

Sep 30, 2020 - NHS and social care workers can now get an Immigration Health Surcharge refund

The government has launched an Immigration Health Surcharge refund scheme for NHS and social care workers. Migrants working in a hospital or care home who don’t have a Health and Care visa will continue to pay the surcharge up front, but can claim it back every six months.

During the pandemic, the Prime Minister promised to exempt migrants propping up the healthcare system from the £400 a year visa tax. That promise was partially fulfilled by waiving the charge for Health and Care visa applicants when that route launched in August.

The refund scheme is for people who are in the UK on a visa gr...

Sep 29, 2020 - What is a frontier worker permit and will it help people commuting into the UK for work?

With months to go to the end of free movement on the rather apocalyptic sounding “IP Completion day” (the end of the implementation period, at 11pm on 31 December 2020), the post-Brexit immigration system is finally beginning to take shape.

We now know that there will be another new visa available from 1 January 2021, one aimed at cross-border or “frontier” workers.

Frontier workers are people who work in one country but who live primarily in another. Free movement laws enabled this working pattern to develop and flourish within the EU, but Brexit has left frontier workers who commute into the...